Radical US-born cleric Awlaqi killed

2011-09-30 17:00
Sana’a - US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, a prominent al-Qaeda chief described by US officials as "the most significant risk" to the United States, was killed on Friday in what was called a "significant blow."

A senior US official confirmed Awlaqi's death after an announcement by the Yemeni defence ministry.

"I can confirm ... he's dead," the senior administration official said, without providing details.

In Sana’a, the defence ministry said Awlaqi was killed on Friday morning but did not elaborate on the circumstances.

Tribal sources told AFP that Awlaqi, who was on a US wanted list, was killed in an air strike on two vehicles in Marib province, an al-Qaeda stronghold in eastern Yemen, early in the day.

One of them quoted what he said was a man travelling behind Awlaqi in a second vehicle and who was himself wounded.

The man, Khamis Arfaj, said Awlaqi and two others, one of them Arfaj's brother, Salem, "were killed instantly from a direct missile hit to their pick-up" truck.

The source said he suspected they died in an American drone strike, saying: "US planes have been flying overhead for days now."

"Then this morning, at about 09:30, what appeared to be a US aircraft fired on the two cars Awlaqi and his fellow operatives are believed to have been travelling in," he said.

US Republican Representative Peter King, chairperson of the House Committee on Homeland Security, called Awlaqi's killing "a great success in our fight against al-Qaeda and its affiliates".

"For the past several years, Awlaqi has been more dangerous even than Osama bin Laden had been. The killing of Awlaqi is a tremendous tribute to President [Barack] Obama and the men and women of our intelligence community," he said.

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